Kovalev to New Jersey???

The most reliable, and the best, reporter in the hockey world Larry Brooks reports the following:http://www.nypost.com/sports/devils/51925.htm

DETROIT – There is nothing more in Lou Lamoriello’s character than the GM making a move that appears completely out of character. Or did anyone anticipate the trades for Vladimir Malakhov and Alexander Mogilny; the return of Claude Lemieux; or the dismissals of Robbie Ftorek, Larry Robinson and Kevin Constantine?

Which is why it is impossible to dismiss the whispers from responsible sources that the Devils have significant interest in Pittsburgh’s Alexei Kovalev. It has been difficult to confirm the report, but understand this is New Jersey we’re discussing here, whose GM once promised (or is that, threatened?) an agent of a player the Devils were about to acquire that the trade would be off if news of the impending deal appeared in this paper.

We’re told that the Penguins, who won’t be in position to keep Kovalev when the winger opts for salary arbitration next summer, have talked to the Devils about moving the mercurial, explosive, entertaining and charismatic winger – four adjectives, by the way, that apply to no one currently in a New Jersey uniform – in exchange for a package of lower-priced alternatives that would include a puck-moving defenseman. Mario Lemieux, we have it on good authority, is clamoring for one.

The Devils most certainly can fill that requirement by including Brian Rafalski in a package – perhaps with Jiri Bicek and/or Christian Berglund – for Kovalev, who would bring more creativity to the Meadowlands since Lamoriello on the day he came up with answers to explain replacing Robinson with Constantine. It’s a match, and a good one, for both clubs.

Kovalev, who has 17 goals playing for the freewheeling Penguins – Jamie Langenbrunner, by contrast, leads the Devils with eight – is earning $4.6 million this season. And though there are concerns that he could receive an arbitration award of over $7M for next year, his last before hitting unrestricted free agency for the lockout season, Kovalev more likely will find himself in the ballpark of $5.1M that Billy Guerin received from an arbitrator two summers ago. Dissimilar players, obviously, but very similar career stats.

The Devils can afford $5.1M for Kovalev next year. It’s just $2M more than they’ll owe Rafalski, who will turn 31 during the lockout. Truth is, the Devils need the attributes Kovalev, traditionally a superior big-game player, possesses. They are not winning enough. They can’t sell a ticket. The entertainment quotient is nil.

What could be more entertaining that watching Pat Burns watch Alex Kovalev?


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